Col. George E. “Bud” Day is America’s most highly decorated living veteran officer. He served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, receiving more than 50 combat awards and the Congressional Medal of Honor.
What he wants now is to stop John Kerry from being elected President.
Day traveled from his home in Florida to Washington, D.C., last week to participate in the filming of two new ads by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. In one of the spots, he directly addresses Kerry: “How can you expect our sons and daughters to follow you, when you condemned their fathers and grandfathers?”
In the early 1970s, when Kerry was meeting with America’s Communist enemies in Paris and falsely claiming to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that U.S. forces in Vietnam were committing war crimes on a day-to-day basis, Day was a POW, languishing in a North Vietnamese prison.
During his five-plus years of captivity he was brutally tortured. Now he is one of several former POWs featured in Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, a documentary about the effect of the anti-war movement on American POWs in Vietnam. The film, which portrays John Kerry in an unsympathetic light, will soon air in part on 62 broadcast stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, despite loud protests from the Kerry camp. Many of the company’s stations are in swing states.
HUMAN EVENTS Assistant Editor David Freddoso interviewed Day October 13 on his decision to publicly oppose Kerry:
You are a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, and well known among people familiar with the history of Vietnam. What is so important to you about this election that you have decided to get involved in the efforts of the Swift Boat veterans?
COL. BUD DAY: I felt a terrible sense of outrage when the Kerry campaign attacked President Bush about his National Guard qualifications, because I was the advisor to a Guard unit that got called up for Vietnam, and we lost three friends of mine. And I thought it was a very mean thing for him to be discounting that military service in the Guard, because that unit likewise could have been called up. They were flying 102s out of Thailand during the Vietnam War. It wasn’t probable, but it certainly was possible. I thought it was a very unfair thing. And then, when his campaign began playing Kerry up as a war hero, I thought that was very questionable, considering the fact that while his service might have been satisfactory, what he did in 1971 after coming back was quite unsatisfactory.
What was your first exposure to Kerry’s 1971 testimony?
DAY: At the time I was a POW, but I didn’t connect it up with him, because there were a lot of loonies out there protesting the war. I had just heard that a Naval officer was badmouthing our performance and basically saying we ought to get out of Vietnam and the war was wrong and so forth. I wasn’t aware that it was him until well after I was back from Vietnam.
Did it surprise you to hear of an officer’s giving such testimony?
DAY: It astonished me, because basically it was a breach of faith with those people he had served with. It was absolutely untrue that we were committing atrocities there. It was absolutely untrue that we were raping women and murdering children and doing all those kinds of things. And either he knew that was untrue, or he should have known just from his own experiences . . . Later, I found out that he had made these two visits to meet with Le Duc Tho in Paris, and push the enemy’s seven-point piece plan–which amounted to us tendering some kind of ransom for the POWs, and under that condition we would come home, and then we would apologize for ever having been in the war. It told me that he really was a man of Benedict Arnold qualities, because that’s what Benedict Arnold did. He fought for the country and then crossed over to the British??¢â???¬ ¦
Did it undermine your morale to hear that a fellow officer of the U.S. military was essentially parroting what your captors were telling you and torturing you to get you to say?
DAY: Yes. And I have to be straightforward. I did not know who this Naval officer was, and I didn’t know exactly what it was he was supposed to be saying. I just heard this story that a Naval officer was basically saying the same stuff that Jane Fonda was saying. Now, of course, in 1972, she was over there posing on gun sights, as were several other anti-war people who wanted the Communists to win. And so to be frank with you, in my mind in jail at that time, I just suspected that it was some sort of hanger-on with Jane Fonda. I just assumed that it was some Naval officer that had kind of gone around the bend, and I certainly never connected it up with him specifically. I had no clue who John Kerry was. I was skeptical of that story, and I thought it might just be some more propaganda from the Vietnamese…
Had John Kerry’s plan to unilaterally withdraw from Vietnam been put into effect, would your life, as a POW, have been in greater or less danger, and would there have been a greater or a lesser chance of your going home?
DAY: It would have been in far greater danger. They always called me a war criminal, they threatened several times to shoot me after the war. Frankly, I didn’t go to sleep every night sick with worry because in my gut I knew that our government was going to bomb them out, and we were going to get out under different conditions. But had the surrender occurred, it would have been a totally different thing, because then those people would have been totally able to do anything they wanted to do with us. They could have turned us loose, they could have not turned us loose, they could have shot us, they could have put us on trial. They could have done anything they wanted to. And not only that, but there would have been a blood bath of the South Vietnamese that would have been in the hundreds of thousands, that would have died and been tortured. . . .
On “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert brought up Kerry’s 1971 testimony. Kerry said that some of the language he used might have been inappropriate, spoken as an angry young man. Does that cut it for you as an apology?
DAY: It wasn’t even in the ballpark. It was no apology–it wasn’t even an explanation. He dodged the question, is what happened. . . . He blackened every Vietnam veteran’s name when he came back and told all of those terrible stories about what we were supposedly doing. And he is just one of the reasons that the myth exists about all of the crazy, nutty, dope-addicted, booze-addicted failures that came out of Vietnam because of that awful war. Col. Bui Tin of the North Vietnamese government said words to this effect: that every day, the North Vietnamese listened to the radio to see what was happening back here in the United States. And what they heard from Kerry was exactly the kind of propaganda that they wanted to hear, because their claim was they were going to win this war on the streets of San Francisco and New York City. And it was clear that John Kerry was helping them do that. That was also part of the Soviet Union’s disinformation program, which was saying exactly the same thing that John Kerry was saying??¢â???¬ ¦ He basically functioned as a propaganda minister for both the Russians and the North Vietnamese. He basically was advocating that the Communists win.
Have you ever been active in politics before?
DAY: Yes. I supported Harry Truman in 1948. I supported Ronald Reagan. I supported George Bush Senior. I supported John McCain [in 2000], and I went with John’s campaign to New Hampshire and Virginia and all around the country quite a bit. I was his commander in jail.